Wry & Dry

"Please explain". Sculptures 'R Us. Dictators, dictators everywhere.

VCE exam question

Wry & Dry has the scoop: a question on the upcoming Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) Media Studies exam. 

Firstly, some background.  Readers will know that Pauline Hanson, current Senator for Queensland, will forever be remembered for her 20 October 1996 television interview [1], that saw the utterance of arguably the two most famous words by an Australian politician: "please explain."  Readers may wish to be reminded of the interview: Click here.

Wry & Dry hesitates to draw on such a powerful intellect as Ms Hanson as the source of his analysis of the current situation in the State of Dystopia, formerly, the state of Victoria. 

Cartoon Andrews Mick Gatto

But it seems that VCE examiners have no hesitation in so doing.  And have prepared the below question to test students ability at managing a media interview.  The question will be:

Media Studies Exam Question

Imagine that you are the Premier of Victoria, and you are being interviewed about your handling of the coronavirus pandemic.  The interviewer shows you the below chart.  And asks you, "Mr Andrews, as Pauline Hanson might have said, "Please explain."  "

Chart please xplain

You are to 'explain' in no more than 450 words the response you would give to the interviewer.  The interviewer will want to know why Victoria's coronavirus case load was 27 times greater than that of NSW.  You are to be as creative as possible, drawing on a range of actual media interviews and techniques. Techniques such as obfuscation, plausible deniability, evasion and buck-passing might be considered.

You have been supplied with the transcripts of:

a) selected media conferences given by the Premier;

b) selected media conferences given by Donald Trump; and

c) a television interview given by Pauline Hanson in 1996, a federal politician.

You may draw on any or all sources. 

The exam question was leaked to Wry & Dry in strictest confidence, and so asks Readers to respect that confidence.  

[1] On 60 Minutes, an Australian current affairs' television programme.  Ms Hanson had just been elected to the House of Representatives as the Liberal Member for Oxley, although the Liberal Leader dis-endorsed her just prior to the election.  For the 1998 election, her seat was redistributed, and she chose an adjacent seat, Blair.  She topped the poll, but after distribution of preferences, the seat went to the Liberal Party.  She was elected as a Senator for Queensland in 2016.

Sculptures 'R Us

Virus-What-Virus Trump on Sunday denied a New York Times report that a White House aide had asked South Dakota’s governor about how to add another president to Mount Rushmore [2].

But, with usual modesty, Trump also suggested he wouldn’t mind seeing his own face etched into the monument.

Cartoon mt rushmore

A face means a head.  And V-W-V-Trump has a head the size of which wouldn't fit onto the side of Mt Everest.  But he does have small feet. 

[2]  Mount Rushmore is a colossal sculpture carved into its granite face in the Black Hills, South Dakota.  The sculpture features the 18 m heads of Presidents WashingtonJefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln.
The Black Hills themselves have their own place in history. In 1868, the U.S. government signed the Fort Laramie Treaty, establishing the Great Sioux Reservation west of the Missouri River for the Lakota tribes, and exempting the Black Hills from all white settlement forever. However, when settlers discovered gold there in 1874, miners swept into the area in a gold rush. The U.S. government took back the Black Hills and reassigned the Lakota, against their wishes, to five smaller reservations in western South Dakota, selling off 9 million acres of their former land. 
In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Black Hills were illegally taken by the federal government and ordered remuneration of $106 million. The Lakota refused the settlement, as they wanted the Black Hills returned to them. The money remains in an interest-bearing account, which now amounts to over $1.3 billion, but the Lakota still refuse to take the money. They believe that accepting the settlement would allow the US government to justify taking ownership of the Black Hills.

Emperor Xi's jackboot now squeezing Hong Kong's throat

It might just be overkill.  Hong Kong police have arrested billionaire media tycoon Jimmy Lai and charged him under Hong Kong's new Beijing-directed national security laws.  And used 200 police people to do it.

Cartoon Hong Kong re education

By arresting Jimmy, Hong Kong has drawn global attention to China's Beijing-isation of Hong Kong, and its draconian security laws.

Readers would have also noticed that Beijing marionette Chief Executive Carrie Lam has delayed for 12 months elections for Hong Kong's parliament, due next month.

Let Wry & Dry assure Readers that the arrest of Jimmy was overkill, but does anyone really think that Beijing is worried?

Emperor Xi is just waiting for Virus-What-Virus-Trump to get the DCM in November and then he can deal with Sleepy Joe Biden.  Sleepy Joe will have enough on his domestic plate about which to worry. Hong Kong-Where's-Hong Kong?

Dictators, dictators everywhere

Belarus, the country that was once home to Lee Harvey Oswald, President Kennedy's assassin, and to Victoria Azarenka, the former world #1 tennis player, last weekend had a presidential election.  And the winner...Alexander Lukashenko, who won with a mere 80% of the vote. 

Cartoon belarus


Mr Lukashenko, now aged 65 and with a comb-over that would make Norman Gunston blush, has been in power for 26 years.  This places him as the world's longest non-royal national leader outside of tin-pot autocracies such as Cameroon, Iran, Cambodia and Rwanda.  

Mr Lukashenko is known as Europe's last dictator.  For the purpose, Russia is not part of Europe.   

The next leader of a modern country, as it were, in the longest-serving rankings is ... Tsar Vlad, currently in his 22nd year of power.

Belarus has the lowest GDP per head (PPP basis) of any of the former Soviet bloc countries, at about US$6,300.  Australia's is about US$57,000. 

The British are coming.  Really.

Readers might already know that the putative Vice President of the Yoo-Ess-Ay, Kamala Harris, is of good British stock.

Her father, Donald Harris, is a British Jamaican.  His parents names were Beryl and Oscar.  How British.

Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan was an Indian born Tamil. Her father and mother were born in British India.

Note that the Duke of Sussex and Princess Princess have just purchased a home [3] in Santa Barbara, California.  The secret plan for the reversion of the Yoo-Ess-Ay (the second last British colony to announce unilateral declaration of independence [4]) to its former colonial status cannot be far away. 

[3] Well, large home, with nine bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, library office, spa, gym, games room, wine cellar and five car-garage on a modest 2.8 hectares.  A steal at $14.65m.
[4] The last was Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

"In the race of life, always back...

....self interest.  At least you know it's trying." [5]  Which brings Wry & Dry to the self-interest of Senator for South Australia, Rex Patrick.  Readers will know that Senator Patrick is a member of the Centre Alliance Party, which succeeded the party of another self-interested politician, Nick Xenophon.

Well, Patrick has quit the Centre Alliance to set up his own party.  His chances of holding his seat at the next election (2022) for the Centre Alliance are slim.  He will now set up a party under his own name, as, he says, it will give him a greater chance of winning.

Patrick, born in New Ziland and a navy electrician before being a staffer to a Liberal Senator, was elected by the party to succeed Xenophon's Senate Seat.  He has never contested an election. 

[5] Often attributed to former PM Paul Keating, but actually said by former NSW Premier Jack Lang.  Lang was famously dismissed as Premier in 1932 by the then NSW Governor.  It's a bit complicated, and had to do with money, similar to the 1975 dismissal of PM Whitlam.  Lang withdrew all the state's funds from government bank accounts and held them at Trades Hall in cash, so the federal government could not gain access to the money.  The money was owed to the federal government to pay interest on government debt. 

Success has many parents, failure is an orphan

The overnight news that the United Arab Emirates [6] and Israel have reached a peace deal is undoubtedly great news.  The UAE will join Egypt and Jordan as the only Arab states to have full diplomatic ties with Israel.  The quid pro quo is that Israel must suspend its annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.

Of course, the success is because of the negotiation skills of I'm-A-Diplomat-Trump.  Or so he says.  However, the gravity of the moment seemed lost on him: an hour later he was tweeting about college football. 

There will, of course, be a signing ceremony at the White House, bringing memories of the original 1978 peace deal between Israel, Egypt and Jordan, facilitated by then US President Jimmy Carter [7].  Readers will recall that Carter did much of the negotiations.

I-A-D-Trump will now consider himself in line the only nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.  The rest of the world will wish that he first gets Saudi Arabia over the line.

That will confirm that Sunni Arab countries view Iran (Shi-ite) as a larger enemy than Israel.  But there's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip.

[6] The UAE is a sovereign state, being a federation of seven small emirates:  Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), AjmanDubaiFujairahRas Al KhaimahSharjah and Umm Al Quwain.  Dubai is the largest city, of some 4.1m folk.  It is a rare example of where an airline (Emirates) is better known than its home.  The UAE is only slightly larger than Tasmania 
[7] Jimmy Carter lost the presidential election not two years after the Camp David Accords were signed.  That success was forgotten because of the failure of his administration to obtain the release of the American hostages held in the US embassy in Tehran (the 'Iran hostage crisis').  Readers may wish to view the amazing movie 'Argo', which tells the true story of the six Americans who escaped captivity, with the help of the Canadian embassy.

Age shall not weary him...

Wry & Dry advises older Readers that all is not lost.  Former Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, aged 83, has split with his partner of 12 years, Francesca Pascale.  Ms Pascale started having breakfast with him, as it were, when she was 23, and is now aged 35.  But she does get €20 million for her 12 years of, err, enthusiasm. 

But, wait there's more. 

Mr Berlusconi has quickly moved on, this time to a Ms Marta Fascina.  Ms Fascina is positively elderly, being 30 years old.  She is also a member of the Italian parliament's lower house since 2018 in Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

Curious Readers may wish to browse their Google machine for photos of each, to identify a couple of characteristics that Ms Pascale and Ms Fascina have in common.

Cartoon bulusconi girlfriends

Netflix at 4am? 

Readers might sometimes wonder why their binge watching of Hogan's Heroes' reruns is best done at 4am.  The below chart might assist.  Not only are millennials just in bed by then, but also video meetings, both business and pleasure, peak by about 10pm.

What is interesting is that the coronavirus pandemic has caused NBN data demand to leap by about 70% during the day.   

Tesla to do the splits

Media release (Wednesday): Tesla has approved a five-for-one share split to make stock ownership more accessible to employees and investors. 

Tesla's shares have tripled in value this year and risen nearly sixfold over the past 12 months.  Pushing its price to almost $1,400.  So a share split seems like a good idea to make its shares "more accessible to employees and investors". 

Err, no.  The share split has nothing to do with that.  It's about Elon Musk's vanity.  It's designed to get the stock into the Dow Jones Industrial Average and thereby boost Mr Musk's ego even more. 

The Dow is a price-weighted average index, unlike the S&P 500 Index, which is market capitalisation based.  It's technical, but without the split Tesla would be 30% of the Dow, making the Dow a nonsense.  With the split it would be about 7% of the index, behind only Apple and UnitedHealth Group.

In fairness to Mr Musk, Tesla in the Dow does make some sense: (a) the Dow has been without a car company for more than a decade, having had a least one for most of its history; (b) Tesla's market cap would place it in the top 10 companies already in the Dow (which has just 30 companies); and (c) Tesla's exposure to solar energy would broaden the Dow, complementing the two large oil companies already in the index.

Snippets from all over 

1.  Wage growth in Australia slows

Wage growth in Australia has slumped to its lowest rate in 23 years, rising just 0.2% in the June quarter and 1.8% for the year.

Wry & Dry comments:  The June quarter rise was mostly in public sector, where wages grew at 0.6%.

2.  NBN a decade on

Australia's National Broadband Network connected its first customer 10 years ago, this month.  The client was in Tasmania. 

Wry & Dry comments:  There might be a sliding doors point of view, but given Wry & Dry's experience of Telstra, it might have been difficult for Telstra to have managed the coronavirus demand for data, had its proposal to run the NBN been adopted.  

3.  Airbnb to float 

The home-sharing giant will confidentially file IPO (Initial Public Offering) paperwork with the SEC later this month for a listing that could still happen this year.

Wry & Dry comments:  The US IPO market has been a hot one, with more than $60 billion raised so far in 2020 - putting this year on track to be the highest since the tech boom in 2000.  And Readers know what happened next.   

4.  U.K. sinks 

The U.K. economy shrank 20.4% in the June quarter.  

Wry & Dry comments:  Over the same period, the U.S. and Germany lost around 10% of their output, with Italy losing 12%, France 14% and Spain 19%.   

5.  Qantas doesn't get off the ground

Qantas hoped to raise $430m from a Share Purchase Plan (SPP) announced in late June.  It raised $71.7m. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Clearly, Qantas' retail investors are in lockdown. 

PS.   An SPP is a capital raising measure targeted at existing retail investors.  

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...


Last words ...

“At least the Borgias supported the arts.

 -  Mary Trump, niece of V-W-V-Trump and author of a scathing book on him and his father.

The Borgias were a Spanish-Italian noble family that became prominent in ecclesiastical and political affairs in the 15th and 16th centuries, producing two popes: Pope Callixtus III and Pope Alexander VI.  Especially during the reign of Alexander VI, they were suspected, and probably guilty, of many crimes, including adultery, incest, simony, theft, bribery, and murder. 

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

...texted Wry & Dry to say that he couldn't obtain a stage-four lock-down Permitted Worker Permit.  And would do what he could to obtain one, soon.